On Friday I attended the first Australian Blogging Conference at Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove (Brisbane) in the Creative Industries Precinct. It was my first unconference, although it wasn’t quite as unorganised as I expected. In fact it was very well organised, but not as loose a schedule as I expected. A few session topics were set up with presenters/discussion leaders lined up to run them. There was a strong theme of political (Did someone mention that there is a Clayton’s election campaign going on in Australia?) and business blogging with numerous light-hearted references to knitting blogs “not that there is anything wrong with knitting blogs”. There was also a strong legal presence as would be expected when the conference was being hosted by the QUT Law school.
The morning started off with a panel session. The panel members were Senator Andrew Bartlett, Professor John Quiggan and Duncan Riley who is also a contributor to Techcrunch.
What was discussed, in no particular order:
Blogs are breaking down the divide between those who share their opinions and those who read or consume those opinions. With blogs, people do both. It is no longer the few whose ideas and commentary is promulgated to the community. Despite this, Bartlett argues that it is overstating the case to see blogs as revolutionizing democracy although the technology has enabled a greater pool of the population to enter the discussion and potentially influence the community.
Blogs are another way for people to connect and lend themselves particularly well to those with common interest in esoteric topics, and or those geographically separated. The knitting blog example came up again – it may be hard to find many in your local community who have a passions for a particular style of knitting, but in the blogosphere there’s a good chance that you will find a few others who seriously dig(g) unusual knitting patterns.
Over time, the quality of content in the blogosphere is improving and deflating, somewhat, the bubble of highbrow group-think. Diversity is bringing new perspectives to public debate. The value of blog comments is in cross-fertilization of ideas.
One of the best things about blogging is that it is often authentic, straight, unvarnished thoughts of the writers. Content is not filtered as it is in the mass media.
Riley suggests that in Australia, journalists see bloggers as a threat and that is not the case in U.S. Australian blogs generally have a more global perspective than US blogs and writers tend to write for a global audience. He also called for Australian bloggers to promote and support the Australian blogosphere by collective actions.
Quiggan discussed (among other things) how blogging about climate change had opened up new opportunities to research.